Why do ugly landing pages work so well?

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We’ve all seen them. The huge red headlines. The sales letter format. The yellow highlights. The intrusive testimonials. And the infomercial-style sales pitch. Of course, I’m talking about ugly landing pages.

A few years back, when I was an internet marketing noob, every time I saw one of these landing pages, I would shudder. I thought they looked like blatant spam, and I couldn’t believe visitors would actually do business on such a sketchy/ugly website.

But after time and time again seeing just how well some of these ugly landing pages convert, I had to realize that I was just wrong. The people designing and writing these landing pages know what they’re doing. Many of them are affiliate marketers whose entire living depends on getting the highest number of conversions possible, so you have to realize they’ve tried everything and have found these sales letter landing pages just flat out work. That’s all there is to it.

But why? Why do ugly landing pages convert so well?

  1. They have no distractions—One thing you have to admit about the sales letter landing page is that it doesn’t include anything that distracts the visitor from the main message. There isn’t any navigation, and there aren’t any unnecessary graphics. As soon as someone lands on the page, there’s only one thing for them to look at, and that is the sales message.
  2. They’re easy to scan—By now, you know that online readers tend to scan content rather than read it word for word. These ugly landing pages are set up perfectly to accommodate scanners. They include bolded/highlighted phrases, bullet points, subheads, and other elements that allow you to quickly scan the content without having to read everything.
  3. They include frequent calls to action—Too many landing pages have a buried call to action. Web users spend 80% of their time above the fold, so most visitors don’t even notice a call to action at the end of the page. That’s why it’s important to feature the call to action prominently and to repeat it regularly so visitors always have a way to take action no matter where they are on your landing page.
  4. The main message is repeated regularly—I hear a lot of copywriters complain about long, sales-y landing pages because they feel like they’re just repeating the same things over and over. And to an extent, that’s true. But it’s also smart. Your message might not stick in the consumer’s brain the first time they see it, but by driving the point home over and over, it can become clear and motivate them to take action.
  5. The testimonials verify the claims—Whether you believe the testimonials or not is irrelevant. The truth is testimonials build credibility, and consumers feel like they can trust their peers. So, whenever they see testimonials that verify the claims being made on the page, they start to think “Maybe this isn’t too good to be true.”

What do you think of ugly landing pages? What are some other reasons they work so well?

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